Build diner loyalty with an email rewards program

McKenzie Gregory

If you work in the restaurant industry, there's a good chance you already know the power of email rewards programs: On average, consumers spend 46% more with companies that have loyalty programs, and 65% say they would recommend a restaurant more to friends and family if it offered an appealing reward program (InReality, Oracle Hospitality). According to Forbes, repeat customers account for 70% of sales in most casual dining restaurants.
So the question isn’t so much whether you should implement a rewards program – it’s how. Here are a few quick tips for setting up an email rewards program that helps turn casual diners into regulars for life. 

Make joining and participating as easy as possible.

To grow your list of rewards members, it’s important to know your basic capture points:
• Leverage traffic to your website to encourage signups and collect member data (like location and birthday) on your form.
• Collect information at your brick-and-mortar location using an iPad app or traditional paper cards.
Be sure to use a compelling lead magnet, like a free appetizer or discount, to incentivize signups. And keep friction to a minimum: A lot of brands fall into the trap of asking for more info than they actually need, so only ask for data you actually plan on using.
O'Charley's offers new rewards members a free appetizer just for signing up. 

Greet new rewards members with a warm welcome…

An automated welcome email reaches new rewards members right when they’re most excited and ready to hear from your brand. It’s a simple but effective marketing strategy: In fact, the average open rate for welcome emails is a whopping 50%!
And if you promise something on your signup form, immediately deliver in your welcome email so new members aren’t left hanging.
As promised, Pei Wei sends new "My Wei" rewards members a free drink coupon. 


… and ask for the data you need to personalize promotions.

Rewards members appreciate receiving offers tailored to their individual needs and interests, so if you don’t have the data you need to do just that, simply ask for it! Most people will happily take a moment to set their preferences, and you’ll see a huge boost in results because of it: Relevant emails drive 18X more revenue than broadcast emails (Jupiter Research).
Then, Pei Wei asks members for the info they need to help them send personalized offers. 

Remember to automate rewards for special occasions.

Whether it’s the anniversary of their signup date or their birthday, automate date-based emails to surprise and delight your rewards members on special occasions. It’s pretty much table stakes in the hospitality game, and it truly works: Over 50% of people who receive birthday offers will take you up on it, versus non-birthday offers with the same deal (eMarketer).
A festive birthday email (like this one from Gigi's Cupcakes) makes rewards members feel special on their special day. 
Keep things interesting
The hospitality industry is notoriously competitive, and "regulars" can turn into "not-so-oftens" in the blink of an eye. Keep them interested by sending engaging promotions, updating your design, and providing new ways to earn tempting rewards. 
TGI Fridays changes things up with an exclusive sweepstakes just for rewards members. 

Have you implemented an email rewards program for your restaurant? Tell us about it in the comments! 

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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